Peaches Keen: My Journey, Finding Community, and Being My Authentic Self

April 3, 2024

Peaches Keen: My Journey, Finding Community, and Being My Authentic Self

My name is Peaches Keen, and I am a 23-year-old Trans Woman who escaped LGBTQ violence and domestic abuse from my home in Kansas City. I have endured many things which forced me which I buried, masking my true self to fit into my surroundings.  As a young child I have known that my gender identity did not match my physical body.  Identifying as transgender was frowned upon by my family and peers. I was constantly hiding who I truly was.  I learned how to please others by putting on a smile and not showing who I truly wanted to be. I have always been criticized for being slim and was always told to “put some meat on my bones.” I developed an eating disorder trying to break out of the mold others put me in. I starved myself constantly, and forced myself to eat, only to purge the food later on. This manifestation of purge eating/Anorexia destroyed my teeth, which has caused my oral health to deteriorate over time.

In high school, to break out of the typical gender roles I was assigned, I joined the color guard, gleefully twirling flags, and rifles with all the other girls. I felt like I had belonged for the first time in my life, being able to hold down food and be athletic in the wake of my shifting gender identity. Around this time, I had a major accident where I threw a flag attempting a double spin toss and the flagpole landed on my face fracturing most of my front teeth. This started a long and difficult battle of oral health which forced me to keep my mouth shut so as not to expose my teeth. I have completely stopped smiling with teeth in pictures due to my mouth being unsightly to myself and others. My oral health has greatly affected me in job interviews, relationships, and productivity. Though I try my best to keep my mouth in tip top shape, the idea of eating and keeping down food has proven to be incredibly difficult. Due to the fractures from my previous color guard accident, my purging tendencies have accelerated the deterioration of my oral health. I am currently dealing with daily oral pain, my teeth falling apart, and other complications of the accident, deviating my septum, shifting the way I present myself to others.

Outside of oral health, I have also dealt with suppressing desired hobbies and career choices due to my presentation of self within my community. I have always been a designer, and dreamed of designing clothes, bags, and making music for myself. In choir, I was the only one of my peers who sang with all the other women, holding onto my high pitch as long as possible before puberty dropped my tone as low. I had taken sewing classes in school, and begged and pleaded for my own sewing machine, but was told it wasn’t for me. I found other outlets for my design philosophy such as technology as that was seen as something suitable in my family. I became extremely adept at using technology and computers since that was what was expected of me, being pushed to be powerful and successful outside the realms I wanted to achieve in.

Since losing the ability to have stable work and housing due to the social conditions where I came from, I left the abusive relationships of my former home and sought refuge in California. I lived in my car for about a month, and am now currently in a shelter specifically for trans women who are experiencing homelessness. I have attempted to leverage my former professional career in technology and engineering, but in the meantime, I have come and gone to places like Penny Lane.  I have rekindled my passion for design. I was gifted my own sewing machine and computer, and have been eagerly designing again. It has been a long time since I have designed bags and clothes, but having the support of people here at Penny Lane is making a difference I didn’t know was possible.

To all who have helped me on my journey, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. My story won’t stop here. I hope to make a significant difference in this world, and I appreciate all the support I received and hope to continue to receive.

-Peaches Keen, Penny Lane TAY Client